Why the creator of the Thunderbirds didn't celebrate Mother's Day.

Gerry Anderson never put a matriarch in his shows because his own mother rejected him, a new documentary reveals 

From Charles Dickens to Sylvia Plath to Eminem, many of the world’s most creative adults had a turbulent childhood.  

Now Gerry Anderson, the creator of Thunderbirds and Stingray, all of whose shows have no mother character, can be added to the list. 

Previously unbroadcast interviews reveal that Anderson’s work lacked matriarchal figures because Anderson was so traumatised by his own relationship with his mother. 

A forthcoming documentary draws on more than 30 hours of interviews with Anderson, recorded years before his death in 2012, but not released until now. 

He had found worldwide success, delighting generations of fans with 18 series and four feature films, which included Space: 1999 and Captain Scarlet. But Anderson had never got over the death of Lionel, his older brother,  

A handsome and heroic pilot who had died during the second world war; he also never recovered from the shock of hearing their mother, Debbie, say: “Why was it Lionel? It should have been you.” 

Gerry was then 12, and had idolised his brother, who was 20 when his plane was shot down in 1942. 

Their mother had always focused her love on Lionel rather than on Gerry or her husband, Joe, whom she repeatedly humiliated during the course of their marriage. 

Anderson recalled in those interviews: “My mother was … always saying how she … hated the marriage. The mixture was explosive. I had the most miserable childhood.” 

He added: “My mother used to humiliate him and, when I was a kid, used to say to me jokingly, ‘come on, you ugly devil, you look more like your dad every day of the week.’  

It used to break my heart because I was brought up to think my father was ugly, so when she’d say that to me, I used to get very upset.” It took its toll on his confidence: “I always feel that I have failed.”

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